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Can tower plans survive the economic crisis?

The downturn is making developers think twice about building skyscrapers, with as many schemes on hold as on site

The market for towers has hit a wall. According to research done by Emap Glenigan and, there are 41 projects to build new skyscrapers in the UK.

Just four of those projects are under construction, with a further one nearing completion. Another 10 have been approved and are now waiting to be built.

But the remainder of the projects have either been put on hold or are yet to be given the go ahead. Given the pressures of the current economic climate, it is these potential skyscrapers – buildings at least 150 m tall – that experts now fear will be delayed for some time, in some cases permanently.

Ian Lindsley, of Jefferson Communications, said: “There will be some lean times ahead. People are not going to be spending money in the short-term.

“We are entering a recession, but everyone knows a recession will end at some point. The property market will go up again unless world capitalism collapses, which is unlikely. I have no doubt in my mind the projects will eventually go ahead.”

Long-term view

But while there is a slump now, many experts use the example of Canary Wharf to make the case for a big, long boom to follow.

Skyscraper development first started at Canary Wharf in 1988, with the construction of One Canada Square, the tallest building in the UK and for short period Europe.

The original masterplan was for a development as it appears today. But then recession followed in the early 1990s and the developer went bust.

It took another 10 years before the other skyscrapers joined One Canada Square. Analysts feel that any projects with funding already in place will still progress, but those without may struggle.

Residential projects, particularly outside London, are also expected to be shelved because of the downturn in the housing

Kamran Moazami, director of WSP Cantor Seinuk, said: “There are some developments that already have funding, and provided that the Government gives planning approval, they will be built.

“We are involved in a few of these projects and we are hoping that in this economic climate the Government will give the go ahead.

“It will give a much needed boost to the construction industry. They will create a lot of work.

“In the case of London, it is practically the capital of the world. A lot of people feel it is a good time to invest in tall
buildings there.

“They will take two to three years minimum to build, roughly the amount of time it will take for us to hopefully come out of the downturn.

“With the current funding issues around residential developments and the drop in the private housing market, there could be some delays on those projects, particularly outside London. Hopefully just temporarily.”